Christopher John Rak
Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
Early yesterday, a Marine stationed at Quantico Marine Corps Base was killed in a wreck on I-95 in Spotsylvania County.
Christopher John Rak, 34, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 4:05 a.m. crash, Virginia State Police Sergeant Les Tyler said.
Rak, an active-duty Marine, was originally from Buffalo, New York. He had no passengers.
He was driving north on I-95 near the Courthouse Road overpass and ran off the left side of the road into the median. His car struck one of the bridge's concrete support beams, Tyler said.
Trooper Matthew Myer Sr. was still trying to determine the cause of the accident yesterday afternoon. Rak did not appear to be wearing his seat belt, Tyler said.
By federal law, Quantico officials cannot release
any information about deceased Marines until 24 hours after their family
has been notified.
It was a bittersweet November 10, 2005, for the Marines of Headquarters Battalion as they mourned the loss of a fellow Marine on the Marine Corps' 230th birthday.
Staff Sergeant Christopher J. Rak was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery after a somber service at the Henderson Hall Theatre. Family members, friends and fellow leathernecks attended to show their respects and, not mourn the death of their brother-in-arms, but to celebrate the life of a respected Marine and family man.
Lieutenant Robert Jones, Headquarters Battalion Chaplain, began the service describing the former Buffalo, New York, native as a "motivated Marine, a family man, and a wonderful person." He told Rak's family and friends that he hoped that they would be able to stand tall despite their loss.
HQBN commander Colonel Anthony E. Van Dyke said, "Rak was one of our own - his loss affects every one of us." He added that during the Marine Corps birthday, servicemembers pause to remember those past and present, and that "we should pause a little longer" to reflect on their experiences with the former Staff Sergeant.
The Chaplain proceeded by reading Psalm 23 from the Bible. Afterward, the battalion Sergeant Major, William H. Small, and Yonna Diggs of Marine Corps Community Services dedicated two songs to the former devildog and his family. A moment of silence followed with the song "Wind Beneath My Wings" played in the background - a song chosen by his family for the memorial service.
Rak's stepson Anthony Pergin spoke at the service, saying he had known him since he was six years old. Rak was the first person Pergin had ever called "Dad."
"He worked hard to keep us happy," said the young boy as he held back his tears. "I will always love him and be proud of him."
The chaplain followed with his sermon. After some comforting words, Chaplain Jones spoke to Rak's family directly, letting them know they should always remember that Rak "served something bigger than himself."
Immediately after the service, Staff Sergeant
Rak and his family were escorted by motorcade to the Arlington National
Cemetery, where the fallen Marine was given a proper military funeral.
Rak's first duty station assignment, after completion of his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) school, was 3rd Maintenance Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan. From Okinawa, he transferred as a lance corporal to 1st Maintenance Battalion, 1st Force Service Support Group, Camp Pendleton, California, in December 1995. While there, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal in July 1997. As a Corporal, he reenlisted in December 1997, and was later promoted to Sergeant in July 1999. In January 2003, he was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Rak's leadership training included Corporal's Course in 1998, and the Sergeant's Course in 2002.
In February of 2004, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. He successfully completed two tours of duty in Iraq.
Rak later transferred to Henderson Hall in June 2005. He served as the Marine Corps Exchange Services Manager.
His awards include the Good Conduct Medal third award, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal second award, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation second award, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon third award.
Staff Sergeant Christopher J. Rak is survived by his wife Elli Victoria and his four children Elle Genae, Chabli Victoria, Anthony Jack and Curtis John. Rak has a host of family, friends, colleagues and fellow Marines who survive him with love, compassion and precious memories.
In loving memory, for his faithful and dedicated
service to the United States of America, the United States Marine Corps
and his family.
Sergeant Rak was stationed at Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia. Sergeant Rak was preceded in death by his mother, Marcia Farish Rak. He is survived by his wife, Elli Rak; a son, Curtis Rak; a step-son, Anthony Pergin; two step-daughters, Chabli Pergin and Elle Pergin; his father, David F. Rak; two sisters, Catherine Fletcher and her husband Robert, and Mary Elizabeth Rak; two brothers, James Rak and David M. Rak; his father-in-law, Alvin Bryant and mother-in-law JoAnn Bryant.
A Funeral will be held at 9:00 AM on Thursday,
November 10, 2005 at Henderson Hall Base Theater. Interment will follow
in Arlington National Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 7:00-9:00
PM on Wednesday, November 9, at MULLINS & THOMPSON FUNERAL SERVICE,